The Bike Dump

Today was my first shift volunteering at a local bike Co-op. It’s called The Bike Dump as the post title implies. The Bike Dump is a volunteer run, community bicycle education space. Meaning it’s not the LBS where you pay someone to fix your bike for you while you sip a latte and gag slightly at the smell of grease. It’s a place where a person can learn how to fix their own bike with a safety net of volunteers with varying degrees of skill who are ready to help you over the rough bits by offering guidance and advice.

It was a super fun experience and a diverse crowd. I helped a person discover that his bottom bracket was a sealed cartridge and therefore not particularly fixable. He and I talked a bit about wether or not to convert to a classic loose bearing style bracket setup or if he wanted to try to find something workable in the parts bin… he ultimately decided to see what he could find at an LBS instead.

The second person I helped was just getting in to bike wrenching. He was a little younger than me, but not much. He wanted to adjust his brakes and shifters. We ran out of time for the shifters though.The brakes ended up having kinked, rusted and generally nasty housing. We found some more serviceable housing and also swapped out his aero levers for some more classic styled ones with turkey levers on them. I think he was pretty happy with my help, and we both learned some things.

All in all it was a successful three hours. I’m definitely going to go back next time I have the chance!

Where was I?

Alright! Some things have happened in the last few weeks, and I’ve been far too lazy to blog about it. Sorry about that!

First, lets talk about #30daysofbiking. It a neat thing that I’ve been trying to do this month, and it seems to be going okay. I’ve rode my bike every day so far and my legs are sore enough to prove it. When I say “I’ve rode my bike,” I don’t mean that I’ve ridden only one bike. So lets have a little update on the bikes that I have.

Kenneth:

IMG_0210This guy has been doing pretty darned good. After cracking the axle nut and replacing it, there was a little bit of tweaking to do the get the shifting just right once again, but that was pretty straightforward. I also think I need to look at the wiring for the rear dynamo light. I think there’s a loose wire in there somewhere. That’ll be good, I like digging into electronics, and I promised I’d look at L’s dynamo light setup for her glider as well. I will keep that promise L :)

There is something a bit concerning that I think I’m going to need to address, my front brake seems to work its way loose periodically. I don’t know if I should do as the LBS suggests and get some LocTite, or if maybe I need to disassemble and grease some threads, or if I need some lock washers in place to make for less wiggling. I’ll figure it out though. I’m also a little concerned about the front hub now that I think about it. I haven’t mentioned this out loud yet, but I think that hub may need rebuilding; or at least some serious adjustment. That means tools… I’ll talk about tools in a future post.

Next I’m going to talk about Gaspode:

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I was super excited when I acquired this beauty. It’s not a super high end pug, but it was pretty, light, fast, and clean. I put some money into it. I adjusted every little thing, learned how to overhaul bearings and set up derailleurs… It was loads of fun! Sadly, Gaspode and I will be parting ways as soon as I find a new home for him. He’s a medium frame bike in a large frames home. The picture here has both the seat post and stem at their maximum height, and I needed just three or so more inches for a good fit. So I’m selling him off. I’m basically only asking for enough to pay for the parts I put in, plus a wee bit for labour.

I only really rode him twice, around a little forest trail with L that we drove out to, and once to work, where I realized it was definitely too small.

Now, on to the oldest of my bicycles:

P4120031The unnamed cruiser. This guy has leaned against many walls, and sat in several basements over the years, I freaking loved this bike when I first got it, but that faded fast as I could never get comfortable on rides lasting more than an hour. For me, this slow, heavy beach cruiser never really fit. Looks damn cool though. Today, I found this under-appreciated bicycle a new home with some dude who answered a Kijiji ad because he wanted something to ride with his kids and out at his lakeside cabin. Power to him, I really hope he enjoys the heck out of it.

I swear that cruiser hasn’t rolled more than 200Km.

One more thing…

With two bikes on their way out, and one that still needs tweaking, what else is out there for a boy who wants to ride bikes like he’s ten?

Probably an 80s Miyata:

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This lovely bike is definitely larger than the pug. In fact it’s a 25″ frame! This picture is from my first commute to work on the bike, I learned that the saddle needed to come up about an inch from where I had it, and the angle of the handlebars needed to change. I had the handlebars horizontal in the drops, but I’m going to try some advice I read and point the bar ends towards the rear brakes. Glenn’s Bicycle Manual recommends pointing the bar ends towards the rear hub, but I think that would leave my tops and ramps pointed weirdly upwards for this particular bar.

This is a lovely entry level road bike from Team Miyata from 1982. It’s a model 110SP, the SP indicates a slight upgrade to the base 110 including an integrated derailleur hangar and a few more alloy components. I actually almost didn’t get this bike. I was poking around on Kijiji a few weeks ago, drooling over a 30 year old Colnago that someone locally wants to sell, but is probably asking a little too much for (that way he can claim to be trying to sell it). I was just putting in random bike brand names into the search bar to see what comes up… Several Bianchi fixies, a couple pugs, more CCMs and Eatons Gliders than you can shake a stick at, and a couple of imported Raleighs, most of the bikes are in the $80 to $200 range. The Miyata came in under $200, but over one. A fair price in this market it seems. I bought it from the original owner, he claimed that all of the parts were original, but I think he may have replaced the saddle at some point, because that’s the only thing that didn’t match the catalogue!

I’m saving up for a Brooks Cambium saddle for this new friend. There are a whole bunch of pictures in my bicycle gallery on this site. I haven’t braved the bearings on this bike yet, but when I do, be sure that there will be photo documentation this time!

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#30DaysOfBiking

I’ve signed up for this thing called 30 Days Of Biking. They don’t have an about page, but they seem to have a decent graphic/web designer. The basic premise is that we sign up and kind of “pledge” that we’re going to ride our bikes every day in April. We’re going to do this because reasons! Which is fine and dandy, I didn’t have to pay to sign up. I didn’t purchase any merchandise (because I’m always broke unless I really badly want something). They state on the top of their pledge page that for every 30 people who sign up they’ll donate a bike to the charity group Free Bikes 4 Kidz, who have a better web designer and no typos in links to external websites. That’s super cool! Kids should have bikes, and if they can’t afford them, then it would be really cool to give them one for free. The 30 Days people aren’t very clear on how they plan to make this donation, where the bikes are coming from or really anything other than “Hey we’re going to work towards this thing!” Hopefully it works out!

So I signed up, despite the lack of information, because of the nice feeling of maybe doing something good by doing what I was planning on doing anyways.

White 1973 Eaton's Glider Three-Speed leaning against a post

#30DaysOfBiking Through Assiniboine Park and area!

Kenneth’s First Day

Winter has finally broken, the streets are dry-ish, and the weather is not… too bad. I’ve been sitting on this old English Three speed for a few months and really looking forward to taking it out for the first time. It was a lovely day a few days ago, and the Ladyfriend wanted to test out her bike as well. So we got to it for a couple of loops around the block to test the waters.

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Everything seemed to be going swimmingly, for me at least, but we soon discovered that L’s bike was still slipping out of second gear into the no-mans-land of neutral that Sturmey Archer had in their older three speed hubs. She was understandably disappointed and decided that she didn’t want to continue riding with her glider in that state. Her hands were also quite sore, so fixing the bike on the spot was not high on the to-do list of the moment. I decided to forge onward, wanting to ride a bit faster and farther.

At this point I should mention that I am by no  means an experienced rider, and the upright position on the Glider is very unfamiliar to me. (Is that foreshadowing? I don’t know, maybe.)

I’m clipping along at a good pace for a residential neighbourhood and approaching an intersection with a left turn. As I lean into the turn, two things happen. First, I realize that I’m going too fast, and second my handlebars seem to be moving independent of the rest of the bike! Needless to say, I quickly found myself on the side of the road, stopped, with my bike far more horizontal than most people prefer. I gathered my pride — the only thing that I could see injured — and tried to carry on as though nothing embarrassing had just happened.

Half a block further on my journey, my bike started slipping into neutral… “that’s weird” I thought, because it was weird, I decided that it must be a fluke, and I may need to adjust my shifting chain after the incident. I continued down the street, allowed my irritation to build while trying to keep the bike out of neutral, and the bike was not cooperating. Finally I pulled over in a cul de sac and discovered that the chain guide bolt looked a bit crooked.

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With this in mind I chose to head home to inspect the damage. The bike stayed in third gear (loose chain) okay, so I stuck with that all the way home… fortunately it wan’t far. The good news turns out that I did not strip or damage the threads on my axle, the bad news however is that I need to replace that axle nut.

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How do I Carry This Crap!

Now that I have a working bicycle, and a plan to use it, I need to start considering needs beyond peddling and shifting gears. Like the title says…

I’ve had a military surplus messenger bag for several years and it’s actually quite useful. It has eyelets on the back that could feasible be used to clip into some sort of handlebar mounting system; it could also be converted into a pannier bag pretty easily. In fact on a few outings with the old cruiser I’d used the shoulder strap wrapped around the middle of the handle bar as a makeshift mount! If I want to have pannier bags, I’ll need some mounting mechanism, possibly some sort of rear rack setup. I really like the look and feel of the Pletscher CS rack. It’s a form factor that’s been around for a really long time, so it has a classic feel that fits with the older bikes that L & I own.

I wonder what other types of inexpensive racks and carriers are available, and fit the old bike aesthetic?

Going Places

One of the reasons I have for starting my bike experience as a commuter is that I really need a destination when I go someplace. It may be a psychological quirk of mine, but if I don’t know the destination I will immediately feel lost and want to go home.

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Where the heck am I? What’s going on!

Without the destination all I really know is that I’m in a city, some distance from home. There’s no point of reference so I can’t plot my next direction. It’s kind of a helpless feeling, it’s also completely irrational. The Ladyfriend does not have this hangup, so it frustrates her to no end when she wants to go for a walk or a bike ride.

“Let’s go for a bike ride!” She says

“Where to?” I reply

“Just around, maybe up Wellington, or something; I don’t know”

“… That makes no sense” I say.

“AAAaaahhhrghhh!” She replies.

This is more what I like:

Ahh, these are known places that I can navigate to and from with ease!

Ahh, these are known places that I can navigate to and from with ease! There are multiple routes I can take as well.

I did this when I was a little kid as well, before I left home I’d think about the route I was going to take. “First up around the top block, then down the steep hill, back past home and over to the bike jump where I’ll probably lose my chain, through the forest I’ll take the lower path then go up past the wood pile and back out of the woods…” and so on.

What is a Bike Even?

When someone says “bike” or “bicycle” what do you think of? I’m guessing it’s probably not this anymore:

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Or even this, despite there being a time where this was the pinnacle of cycling technology:

Velocipede

Things change.

For me, when someone talks about bikes, or bicycles, I immediately imagine that they’re talking about a ’70s or ’80s ten speed. That’s just the default “bike” for me. Maybe because those are the bikes that I coveted as a kid growing up in the eighties. Maybe my aesthetic simply prefers the clean lines and diamond frames for unknown, subconscious reasons.

Of course, technology doesn’t stop just because something is pretty. New materials, new manufacturing processes, science and ergonomics are all influencing modern bicycle design. Incredibly lightweight materials that can be made in a more aerodynamic shape than simple round tubing, suspension and hydraulics, electronic shifting, all of these things lead to bicycles that would be barely recognizable twenty-five years ago

Fit as a Fiddle!

A while back I posted about my successfully riding my bike around the block. Not a major feat by most standards, but hey, baby steps are important. One thing I didn’t mention in that post was a discovery I made about myself. I’m out of shape.

Wow am I ever out of shape. Sure, riding in snow is probably more effort than riding on a dry street in the summer time; but I was pretty winded after riding for less than ten minutes! This bodes well for a work commute that I’m expecting to be a twenty to thirty minute ride at first.

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I’ve had a pretty sedentary lifestyle since I started working on technology for a living. I remember working for my Grandfather’s building supply in my teens I was pretty damn fit. Not athletic sprinter style; but eight hours of hauling drywall, cement, lumber, and building materials with few pauses, endurance type fitness. After that I worked in a manufacturing plant making LVL, and while it wasn’t nearly as intense as 100 lb bags of cement, I was active.

For the last six or seven years, however, the most intense labour I’ve had is lifting a Mac Pro up onto a work bench…. maybe twice. I do spend a lot of my current days walking, and that can leave me with tired legs at the end of the day, but my heart rate stays pretty level. I think I’m getting all of the weariness and sore muscles of exercise without many of the actual health benefits.

My early years kept me relatively fit by default, but now that I’m older and in a new industry I have to actually pay attention to my activity level. That’s something I’ve never really learned how to do. I need to find new patterns and behaviours that will result in more activity, because looking for activities for their own sake doesn’t seem to work with me. the Ladyfriend is often frustrated in her attempts to get me out for a walk or other activity when I ask a question that is very important to me, “where are we going?” I don’t have a justification for my desire for a destination, but it’s there none the less.